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August 10, 2022

AG: DeKalb Violated Open Meetings Act by Holding Closed Session to Discuss Elected Clerk –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On July 13, 2022

DeKalb, IL. (ECWd) –

The Illinois Attorney General issued a determination declaring that the City of DeKalb violated the Open Meetings Act by entering into closed session to discuss the performance of the elected City Clerk.

The Attorney General also asked the city to make the closed session recording available to the public, because those discussions were improperly held in closed session.

DeKalb’s form of municipal government does not grant the city council powers to remove an elected clerk from office, therefore it cannot enter into closed session to discuss the clerk.

From the determination (emphasis ours):

The plain language of section 2(c)(3) of OMA only permits a municipal public body such as a city council to privately deliberate on an officeholder’s performance, discipline or removal from office if it has been “given the power to remove the occupant under law or ordinance.” (Emphasis added.) 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(3) (West 2020). The City has a managerial form of government. Under that form of government, the City Council is authorized to appoint a city manager who “may at any time be removed from office by a majority vote of the members of the council[.]” 65 ILCS 5/5-3-7 (West 2020), as amended by Public Act 102-15, effective June 17, 2021. No provision of the Illinois Municipal Code governing the managerial form of government permits the City Council to remove the city clerk, who is an elected officer, from office.

The narrowly construed section 2(c)(3) exception does not permit the City Council to engage in wide-ranging discussions of an officer’s performance or discipline or removal from office simply because a provision of the Municipal Code authorizes the City Council to declare the City Clerk’s office vacant under certain conditions, such as if it determines a disability impaired the City Clerk from performing his public duties after either the appointment of a guardian ad litem or a finding of impairment due to disability by a licensed doctor.

. . . this office concludes that the City Council improperly discussed the City Clerk and recording secretary position in closed session pursuant to the section 2(c)(3) exception. This office requests that the City Council remedy that violation by voting to publicly disclose those portions of the closed session minutes and verbatim recording.

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4 Comments
  • Har har. Dysfunctional DeKalb
    Posted at 21:36h, 13 July Reply

    Har har, Dysfunctional DeKalb. The only reason why DeKalb have so much trouble with the City Clerk position is that years ago after a long-term city clerk retired and did not seek reelection, the city dropped the elected clerk’s pay to less than minimum wage in hopes that nobody wanted the job so they could hire a clerk like an employee, thus robbing the voters from their rights of electing who they want. The city then (and the city now) wants someone in the clerk’s position that they can control, i.e. a hired employee, not an elected position. Every elected clerk since DeKalb dropped the pay to less than minimum wage got bullied and/or hassled in one way or another.

  • Mac Swan
    Posted at 10:47h, 14 July Reply

    The Har Har DeKalb comment is incorrect. The retired clerk was replaced by a newly elected clerk that did not understand the position. The city manager and city attorney removed the full-time elected clerk from office by threatening an arrest and offering a $10000 severance check. After the clerk was removed the city council voted to reduce the clerk pay in an attempt to discourage anyone from running for the office.

    • John Kraft & Kirk Allen
      Posted at 08:10h, 15 July Reply

      No such thing as a severance check to an elected official. It is illegal. Please provide more information on this severance check to an elected clerk.

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